Ewan sprints to seventh on stage two of the Giro d’Italia

Sat 7 May 2016

Caleb Ewan finished a respectable seventh place for ORICA-GreenEDGE in an aggressive sprint finish on stage two of the Giro d’Italia today.

The 2016 Australian criterium champion jumped from wheel to wheel in the final few hundred metres after solid work from Sam Bewley and Luka Mezgec but coud not quite break out of the bunch behind stage winner Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep).

Colombian Esteban Chaves was protected well by his ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates and finished in an impressive 18th place, not content to sit safely within the main field alongside his fellow general classification contenders.

Sport director Matt White wasn’t surprised with how stage two panned out.

“As predicted it was a very hectic day,” said White. “It’s often like this on the first road stage of a Grand Tour especially with the incredible crowds that turned out today.”

“Caleb (Ewan) and the team did very well to hold their positions going into the finale and obviously we would have liked to have a better result.”

“Caleb is a young developing rider,” explained White. “He is exceptionally talented and he will gain a lot of valuable experience in this race, hopefully we will get another a chance to contest the finish tomorrow.”

How it happened:

Only 25kilometres separates Arnhem and Nijmegen but the 190kilometre route of stage two ran in a wide sweeping loop west into the Dutch countryside before turning back for two 8.6kilometre finishing circuits.

The midday sunshine was pouring down as the riders headed out of the neutral zone with an attack springing within the first twenty minutes of racing.

The peloton was content to let the trio of attackers go and after 30kilometres they had a developing advantage of over four minutes with no sign of any reaction from the main field. The three leaders included Omar Fraile (Dimension-Data) and the group worked well together to push the gap out to seven minutes after an hour of racing.

With 115kilometres remaining the Fraile breakaway had reached it’s maximum advantage of close to ten minutes. Fifteen kilometres later and various teams including Astana, Etixx-Quickstep and Giant-Alpecin began to work at bringing back the three leaders. The lead of the escapees fell to five minutes with 70kilometres to go.

ORICA-GreenEDGE were present on the front left side of the peloton as the chase continued with 55kilometres remaining, the advantage of the trio of escapees was around three and a half minutes and falling steadily. All of the available intermediate sprint points of stage two had been claimed by the three members of the breakaway, virtually guaranteeing that Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) would still be in the pink leader's jersey come the end of the day.

Approaching the finish town of Nijmegen and the three leaders had under two minutes on the peloton whose chase was intensifying with every pedal stroke. With 25kilometres left to race a bike change was required for New Zealander Bewley after suffering a rear wheel mechanical. Bewley made the chase back on to the main bunch with only one minute now separating the Fraile trio and the peloton.

Inside the final twenty klometres and two riders of the breakaway group were finally caught leaving Giacomo Berlato (Nippo-Vini-Fantini) to attack alone and briefly extend his advantage over the peloton.

The race eventually returned once more to a compact field preparing for the sprint finish with ten kilometres to go.

The tension was building nicely approaching the finale with teams fighting for position at the front of the peloton. Ewan was tucked in behind Bewley going into the last two kilometres when the head of the race split apart with accelerations by FDJ and Etixx-Quickstep.

Kittel began his sprint early with more than 200metres to go to the line but held off the bunch to take the victory. Ewan and ORICA-GreenEDGE had to settle for seventh place after the 21-year-old found his path blocked in the final 50metres.

Stage three takes place tomorrow as the race turns around and heads 189kilometres back to Arnhem from Nijmegen. Categorised as another flat stage with one or to slight lumps to negotiate it should turn out to be another day for the sprinters.

Giro d’Italia stage two results:

1. Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep) 04:38:31
2. Arnaud Demare (FDJ) ST
3. Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) ST
7. Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE) ST 

General classification after stage two:

1. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) 04:49:34
2. Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) ST
3. Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep) 00:00:01
16. Damien Howson (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:00:19